Saturday, August 15, 2009

éirígí Activists Board British Warship in Belfast

Opposing the Militarisation of Tall ShipsAs part of an imaginative political protest two éirígí activists today boarded the British warship Mounts Bay, which was in Belfast as part of the festivities surrounding the arrival of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge. While temporarily posing as loyal supporters of the Royal Marines the pair proceeded to distribute éirígí DVDs to members of the crew and other British military personnel.

The DVDs, entitled ‘Britain’s Royal Marines Facing the Music’, consisted of two éirígí-produced videos containing images of some of the civilians who have been killed and maimed by the British military in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point the DVD was actually played on an audio-visual display on the ship by an unwitting member of the crew.

Copies of the two videos can be viewed below:

While on board the warship the two activists also photographed members of the British military encouraging children to handle automatic weapons. When challenged by a senior member of the ship’s crew the two protesters explained their objection to the presence of a British warship at the Tall Ships event, before being escorted off the Mounts Bay.

Children playing with weaponsAs the pair left the ship up to a dozen members of the paramilitary PSNI arrived, apparently intent on carrying out arrests. They quickly withdrew, however, as a number of journalists began to interview the éirígí activists.

Following the protest éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said:

“The presence of the British Military at the Tall Ships event is an absolute disgrace. What should have been a great day for Belfast and Ireland has been marred in a transparent attempt by the British military to normalise its occupation of the Six Counties.

“éirígí announced a couple of days ago that we intended to challenge the Royal Marine Band here today, but strangely enough they didn’t turn up – using the excuse of bad weather to cover their fear of éirígí upsetting their planned photo opportunity."

“When our activists boarded the Mounts Bay the last thing they expected to find were young children being encouraged to handle weapons by the British military. It is absolutely disgusting that the Tall Ships event was used to familiarise children with the weapons of war. It seems that the British Navy is now happy to encourage child soldiers in Ireland."

“It is a sad piece of irony that the DVDs we distributed today contain many images of similar children killed by similar weapons yielded by the British military.”

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